Thursday, December 30, 2010

Successful New Year's Resolutions start with SMART Goals

Happy 2011 (well, almost)!
Another year is almost history, and it’s time for that annual event: coming up with your New Year’s resolutions.  Most people probably have one or two in mind. I’m guessing that most resolutions are related to DIET and EXERCISE, and experience leads me to believe that Monday, January 3, will be a very crowded day at the local gym. If you check back a month later in February, the gyms will be back to their normal capacities. WHY? 
New Year's resolutions are doomed to failure if you do not set SMART Goals. Making vague statements such as "I'm going to exercise more in 2011" or "I want to lose weight in 2011" is setting yourself up for failure because these statements are missing key elements of the goal setting process.

Here are the 5 SMART elements of goal setting. Try them out with your New Year's Resolutions.
  1. Specific:  Be specific by stating the Who, What, When, Where, and Why of the goal. Instead of making the vague statement "I will lose weight", add the specifics:    "I will lose 5 pounds each month, starting in January, by running 30 minutes, 4 times per week, so I can reach my goal weight and improve my blood pressure."
  2. Measurable: You need to have concrete criteria to measure your goals so you know if you are on track. This is the "how much""how far" or "how many" of your goal.  This part of the goal is easily logged in a calendar, day planner, or smart phone and can be tracked to determine your success. "I will do 100 sit-ups, 50 push-ups, and jump rope for 10 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday mornings before work."
  3. Attainable: When you set goals that are important and reachable, you start to figure out ways to make them happen. You develop a positive attitude, learn skills, and plan the financial aspects related to the goals. Keep in mind that if you set goals that seem too far out of reach (i.e. "I want to lose 50 pounds") you probably won’t commit to doing them because they seem overwhelming. Setting a more attainable goal of 5 pounds per month is not so overwhelming.
  4. Realistic: Get Real! “I’m going to stop eating ice cream this year” is probably not realistic if it is one of your favorite treats. Instead, cut back a little bit if you eat it frequently. “I will have one ½ cup serving of ice cream only on Saturdays and Sundays instead of every night like I do now”.  
  5. Timely: Set a time frame for the goal: “by March 1st”, “for 3 weeks”, “in one month”, etc. Once you have included a time schedule with your goal, you have a time point to work towards and you can reevaluate your goal once you get to that point. Keep the time frame realistic by setting the goal date closer rather than far away. Shorter, more frequent milestones will keep the goal fresh in your mind, and early successes will motivate you even more.
So, here is my vague New Year’s resolution:  
  • “I want to run another half-marathon this year”.
Here’s the SMART goal version of my resolution: 
  • "I WILL follow the 13-week running/training program with specific dates and run distances in order to race in the Santa Cruz Half-Marathon on April 10, 2011, and beat last year’s time of 1:56:57"
What’s Yours?

Happy 2011! Fuel Excellence!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving - some real nutrition tips for the big day.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Well, if you happen to Google "Nutrition Tips for Thanksgiving" you will get over one million results from nutrition experts (and many non-experts!) telling you to "eat this, don't eat that", "avoid dessert, have fruit instead", and it goes on and on.

What's the reality? Well, my reality is that this is one day of the entire year that I get to enjoy Nana's pumpkin pie, Auntie Becki's deviled eggs, Papa's mashed potatoes, and Mom's turkey stuffing. Am I going to avoid all of those things in order to stay on my nutritional plan? NO! So I'm certainly not going to advise anyone else to avoid their favorite Thanksgiving food that they get to enjoy once a year.

What is the best nutrition advice for THANKSGIVING festivities?  PORTION CONTROL!
Portion control is the key to sound nutritional plans, and it also allows you to occasionally enjoy your favorite foods, including those Thanksgiving favorites that you look so forward to once a year.

Here are a few suggestions to help with Portion Control:
  1. Please eat breakfast (or something healthy) before the big dinner. Many people think that if they starve themselves the entire day until the big dinner that they may be avoiding some calories. The exact opposite happens! When you avoid eating until the big dinner, your brain does not have the energy to think rationally. Plus, your morning "starvation" gives you a false sense of accomplishment and a license to overeat - as soon as you see food, you may immediately take larger portions, overeat everything, and feel completely and uncomfortably stuffed after the meal. This in fact results in higher calorie intake for the day.
  2. Avoid "over-snacking" on the chips, dips, and fatty snacks that may be out and about during the early festivities and football games. These extra calories will add up. If it is the Thanksgiving meal that you want to enjoy, then snack lightly. 
  3. Eat slowly and wait at least 20 minutes before you go back for "seconds".  It takes our brain at least 15-20 minutes to realize that our stomach is full, so if you eat slowly and wait that amount of time, you may realize that you are already full, avoid getting "seconds", avoid overeating, and avoid excess calories.
  4. Use your plate as a Potion Control tool. Enjoy a smaller portion of each of the Thanksgiving foods. If you can't fit it on your plate, then you probably should take smaller portions of your favorites. 
I would like to wish everyone a safe, fun, and Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner. Take a nice after-dinner walk with the family. May we all be thankful for family, food, and health. 

Friday, November 5, 2010

Watching TV can be good exercise?

Ok, so now that I have your attention,
who says you have to watch TV sitting down?

Oh, comes The Perfect Storm: 
  • Rainy season has arrived. 
  • Daylight savings time is ending.
  • Sports season is in high gear w/ football, basketball, hockey (Go Sharks!), etc.
  • November sweeps for all of our favorite TV shows is here. 
These events can really take a toll on our outdoor exercise programs, BUT, there is a way to stay on track.

Exercise while you watch!  

If you are lucky enough to have a gym membership, then stay on track and keep it up! However, for those of us who do most of our exercise outdoors, this can be a tricky time of year.

The GOOD news: We can still exercise indoors on rainy days or dark evenings while we catch up on our favorite sports teams, reality shows, sit-coms, or dramas. Even the American College of Sports Medicine has recently reported that Old School core exercises and calisthenics are going to be one of the hottest trends in 2011. Think "Rocky Balboa" with his push-ups, sit-ups, dumbbells, and jump rope and you've got the makings of a great indoor workout.

Here are some fun exercise ideas you can do while watching TV.
Get off the couch and go for it!
  1. Enjoy "Dancing with the Stars" or "Glee"? Well, get up and dance or jump rope to the music!
  2. Instead of using the DVR to skip commercials, do sit-ups, push-ups, squats, or jump rope during the 2-minute commercial breaks of your fav shows.
  3. Is your weekend filled with watching college or pro football? Do 100 jumping jacks for every touchdown, 10 push-ups for every field goal, and 10 sit-ups for every first down! Or design your own combination of exercises.
  4. You can do similar exercises during hockey or basketball games: perform jumping jacks or jump rope during power plays, do sit-ups and push-ups for every goal, and do squats for every point scored in basketball. You get the idea!
  5. If you own dumbbells or kettle bells, you can also do sets of these during commercials or during games. 
Every little bit of exercise helps, so utilize these times to exercise, improve your health, and keep yourself fit!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Halloween: "tricks" to avoid overeating the "treats".

Halloween is the official beginning of the holiday season. For those who are watching their weight or trying to follow a diet plan, this can be a VERY difficult time of year.

Here are a few tips or "tricks" to help you avoid overeating those Halloween "treats".
  1. Start at the store. Avoid buying the Halloween candies you love. For me, it is Kit Kat or Reese's PB cups, so I buy other types of candies to hand out at the door. After the big night is over, I won't have a bunch of leftover candies that I know I will eat.
  2. Out of sight, out of mind. Avoid setting the big bowl of Halloween loot on the kitchen counter where you can easily walk by and eat several pieces without even realizing it. Put the candy in the pantry or cupboard, and instead put sliced fruit or veggies on the counter.
  3. Help friends & coworkers too. Avoid bringing all your extra candy to your workplace. I am a big advocate of workplace wellness. They too are probably watching their weight or trying to be healthy, so no need to sabotage their efforts. If you really want to get rid of the candy, just throw it out. Yes, it may be wasteful, but it's better than you and your coworkers being "Waist-FULL". 
  4. Be real. Allow yourself some treats, but do so in moderation! Make a deal with yourself about how many treats you will allow yourself each day and account for those calories in your daily calorie plan or workout schedule. 
  5. If you do go overboard on Halloween treats, DO NOT beat yourself up about it! Avoid the negative thoughts about yourself. It doesn't mean that you are "weak" or "worthless".  Avoid the all-or-nothing talk, like "I should just start my diet over again after the New Year."  Try to stay on track. Just own it, move on, and stay focused one day at a time. The holidays can be a challenging 3-month period for weight loss, so weight maintenance may be a more realistic goal.
  6. Use physical activity to help you through the Halloween munchies. Below are samples of some common Halloween candies and their calorie contents. As a guideline:  To "burn off" an additional 200 calories of Halloween treats you need to: walk 40 minutes, run 20 minutes, bicycle 25 minutes, or swim 25 minutes (based on a 150 lb. person). Walking the kids around the neighborhood on Halloween night is a great start!
Candy Corn, 22 pieces = 140 calories
Little Fun Size Bars of Nestle’s Crunch, Snicker's, Milky Way, Kit Kat, Hershey's chocolate, Reese's PB Cup, Butterfinger, Twix, Almond Joy, or similar = 70-100 calories each
Peanut M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 180 calories
M&M’s – 2 Fun Size Packs = 140 calories
York Peppermint Pattie – 1 pattie = 70 calories
Milk Duds – 1 treat size box = 40 calories
SweetTarts – 1 treat size pack = 50 calories
1 Tootsie Pop – 1 pop = 60 calories
1 Tootsie Roll – 1 small roll = 13 calories
Twizzlers – 1 treat size pack= 45 calories

Happy Holidays 
& don't forget to "Fuel Excellence!"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

What percentage of US adults consume the recommended amounts of fruits and veggies daily?

First, what are the recommendations for fruit and vegetable consumption?
  • 2 or more servings of fruit per day  AND
  • 3 or more servings of vegetables per day

So, how did we do America?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that in 2009 only 33% of adults consumed fruit 2 or more times per day and only 26% of adults consumed vegetables 3 or more times per day.
Looks like we could use a lot of improvement! 

Eating fruits and vegetables (F&V) has so many benefits:
  • Reduced risks of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes, and obesity. F&V are loaded with vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and beneficial phytochemicals which all contribute to optimal health and wellness. 
  • Most Americans do not meet the daily recommendations for fiber intake (25-35 grams per day). This deficiency in fiber intake has been linked to constipation, diverticular disease, and colon cancers. Guess what? F&V are also great sources of fiber, so eating your F&V may help with constipation and diseases of the colon as well.
  • Eating fresh F&V adds volume and bulk to your diet, helping you feel full and potentially eat less. This is a great tool for weight management. 

Now that we know the benefits of eating more F&V, how do we add more into our diets?

Tips for Breakfast (yes, you should be eating breakfast...please see my last blog if you are not.)
  • slice a banana into your morning bowl of cereal
  • sprinkle 2 Tbsp of raisins or dried cranberries on your bowl of oatmeal
  • pair an apple or pear with a granola bar for a quick on-the-go breakfast
  • enjoy a 1/2 cup of orange juice with your bagel
  • make a breakfast smoothie: blend together a 1/2 cup low-fat milk, 1 banana, 1/2 cup frozen berries, and 1/2 cup yogurt.
Tips for Lunch
  • add extra produce (lettuce, tomato, cucumber, green peppers, etc) to your deli sandwich
  • have a side salad (go easy on the dressing)
  • enjoy pre-cut veggies in a bag (i.e. baby carrots) with lunch
  • add a piece of whole fruit to your lunch (apple, pear, orange, etc)
  • spread a whole wheat tortilla with 1 Tbsp peanut butter and then wrap it around a peeled banana..another great on-the-go meal! got milk?
Tips for Dinner
  • fill half of your dinner plate with veggies. This is also a great weight-loss tool.
  • chop dark green veggies and add to your stews, casseroles, and pasta sauces. If the kids are not big fans of vegetables, this is a great way to sneak them in.
  • make home-made veggie pizza with an array of vegetables such as zucchini, broccoli, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, etc.
  • grill colorful vegetable kabobs with tomatoes, green and red peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc
  • make a quick fruit salad with sliced bananas, canned pineapple & peaches in juice, and strawberries.
Tips for Snacking
  • berries (blueberries, strawberries, etc) or grapes are great little sweet snacks on their own
  • add berries to your yogurt container
  • mix together a 1/4 cup of dried fruit with a handful of nuts
  • spread 1 Tbsp of peanut butter on slices of apple or celery 
  • snack on sugar snap peas, cherry tomatoes, or green pepper strips with 2 Tbsp reduced-fat ranch dressing 
Add some color to your life and to your meals with F&V. Your body and your mind will thank you!

Fuel Excellence

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Nutrition in the Park!

What a beautiful morning! I had a great time at Almaden Park talking to the Links, Inc. group about nutrition. The most common issue that comes up with athletes and exercisers who train in the morning is skipping breakfast. Skipping breakfast and then trying to work out is like driving your car with the "low fuel" light on. Sooner than later you WILL run out of gas! When this happens, your workout may be sluggish, your training will be less effective, and your performance in your sport (or your exercise goal) will suffer because you haven't trained at your best.

"Breakfast" does not have to be a fancy, sit-down, throw-down event. It can be as simple as fruit and yogurt, a bowl of cereal, half of a bagel or piece of whole wheat toast with peanut butter. These carbohydrates provide that much needed "fuel" for your muscles and your brain.

What is the biggest reason why people skip breakfast? You guessed it...."I just don't have time". I've heard this from athletes time and again. However, during my sports nutrition seminars I perform a little experiment. I ask for a volunteer from the audience and actually time them with a stopwatch to see how long it takes them to make a simple half bagel with PB. It usually takes them only 25 or 30 seconds. I think we can give ourselves at least that much time to fuel our bodies correctly. It will give us that much needed energy boost in the morning so we have a great workout and productive day!
Fuel Excellence!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Hey Golfers - Not up to par on your hydration? It could affect your performance.

You're coming up on the 15th hole. You are fatigued, hot, and you feel a headache coming on. You've been fighting the course for the past 5 holes, and it is winning. Your game was going great during the front nine, but now it's crumbling. Why does this always seem to happen? There could be one, simple solution....Hydration!

Golf requires the physical skills of endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility as well as keen cognitive function, concentration, and anxiety control.
Scientific research shows that dehydration negatively affects all of these important attributes that are critical in the game of golf. If your strength and endurance are compromised by dehydration, perhaps your drives might not go as far. If your balance and flexibility are off, your chances of slicing increase. If your concentration is hindered, your putts may not fall; instead of that coveted birdie, you find yourself 3-putting for bogey. 

Staying hydrated throughout the round may be the key to improving your game. Here are some simple solutions that may help:
  • Start hydrating the day before by drinking plenty of water throughout the day.
  • 2 hours before your round, drink approximately 2 cups (16 oz) of water.
  • At the start of each hole, drink at least 1/2 cup of fluids (water or sports drinks), even when not feeling thirsty. For some of us, the thirst mechanism doesn't kick in until we are already dehydrated. What is a 1/2 cup? It's about 4 gulps or swallows of your water. 
  • Avoid alcohol (and this is where I lose you golfers 21 and older). But seriously, if you are serious about your game, you may want to consider that alcohol causes dehydration. Coupled with 4 hours of play in the heat and humidity, alcohol could really blow your game.
These are just a few tips to get you started. Everyone is different, so try a few of the hydration tips above to see what works best for you. 

Play hard and hydrate wisely! 

Good luck to the SJSU Men's Golf Team. Have a great season!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Tips for fitting exercise into your busy day.

Exercise goes hand-in-hand with good nutrition: it makes weight control much easier and it is also good for your health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends a MINIMUM of 150 minutes of "moderate-intensity exercise" (e.g. brisk-walking) each week for adults ages 18-64 (with a physician's clearance of course). That is 30 minutes per day, 5 days per week at a minimumExercising for one hour on most days is better, but to get started, 30 minutes per day can be your goal.

If you are currently not exercising at all, it may feel impossible to fit 30 minutes of exercise into your already hectic day: making lunches for school, commute traffic, work, soccer practice, grocery shopping, homework help, cooking dinner, etc. Here is a solution that may help you get started.

***Solution: squeeze in 3 short 10-minute bursts of exercise throughout the day totaling 30 minutes for the day. As long as you are doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time, you will be reaping the important health benefits of weight control and reducing your risks of developing chronic diseases such as heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. It can also help improve your mood and mental health too. 

Here are some ways you can fit in 
short 10-minute bursts of exercise during your day:

  • Power walk at your lunch break.
  • Walk the kids to and from school at a brisk pace.
  • Work in a building with stairs? Walk the stairs for 10 minutes during your break. 
  • Instead of sitting and watching your child at soccer or ("insert sport here") practice, jog around the field.
  • So, you don't stay and watch your child's sports practice? No problem. Show up 10 minutes early to pick them up and do a brisk walk then.
  • Hint for game days: Most kids need to show up early to their games, meets, matches, or tournaments to warm up. This is a good time to do your jogging or walking.
  • Take a family power walk, hike, or bike ride after dinner.
  • Get a running "Buddy" (especially the 4-legged ones) to join you on your jogs or power walks.
  • Like to shop? Wear your running shoes and do a 10-minute power walk in the mall.
  • Housework is no fun, but with the right intensity, it counts as exercise! Vacuuming, mopping, and mowing the lawn are great ways to get the heart pumping and burn calories. 
  • Instead of watching the kids play, join in! Shoot hoops, jump rope, or play tag. 
  • Rainy day? Turn on the tunes and DANCE like nobody is watching! 
  • Can't miss your favorite show on TV? While watching, do jumping jacks,  push-ups, sit-ups, etc. during the show. 
Remember, if you can do longer than 10 minutes at a time, that is best.
10 minutes, 3 times a day is the minimum. 

Do you have any ideas that work best for you? Post them here!!

Now that you're done reading this, get up and go exercise! 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Despicable" Deal

So I went to see "Despicable Me" at the movie theaters this summer with the kids (funny movie, but I digress). We were offered a "great deal" (which I turned down)...all-you-can-eat HUGE tub of popcorn and free refills on the GIANT soda cup for a mere $12 or so. I can't remember the actual price but cheap for movie theater standards.
What that sounds like to a dietitian: "What a deal, unlimited amounts of calories and two days worth of saturated fat while you sit on your booty for 2 hours."  Check out the link below for the despicable details of how you can sit, enjoy a great movie, and unknowingly consume a whole days worth of calories and fat in less than 2 hours. 

Monday, August 30, 2010

Dietary Supplements - Be cautious and do your homework.

"These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA (U.S. Food & Drug Administration). Our products are not intended to diagnose, cure or prevent any disease."

You will see this warning on every supplement bottle you purchase. WHY? The FDA regulates dietary supplements under a different set of regulations than those covering "conventional" foods and prescription and over-the-counter drug products. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994 (DSHEA), the dietary supplement manufacturer, not the FDA, is responsible for ensuring that a dietary supplement is safe before it is marketed. The manufacturers do not need to register their products with FDA nor get FDA approval before producing or selling dietary supplements.

Want to learn more info, perhaps about the supplement you've been taking? Check out the following websites.

USDA - Food & Nutrition Center - Dietary Supplements

Consumer Reports - Dietary Supplements

Monday, August 16, 2010

Back to School & Soccer!! - Fuel up to play hard

Fuel Excellence!

New ball. New cleats. New uniform. Training camps. And the list goes on. We want to provide the best for our soccer star, so let’s not forget one of the important factors affecting performance: good nutrition!

Kids need high amounts of energy to meet the demands of soccer, growth, and development. Being properly fueled and hydrated before practice (and games) helps them perform at their best and stay healthy. 

Nutrition Tips before Play:

-ALWAYS eat breakfast and lunch. This fuels their muscles and their brain.

-Have an after-school snack BEFORE practice. Snacks high in carbohydrates and low in fat work best because they digest quickly. Fruits, grains, milk, and yogurt are good choices. Avoid fatty snacks and fast foods before practice and games, because they can lead to stomachaches and low energy. Fluids are important before play for proper hydration. Avoid carbonated beverages because they may cause bloating and stomachaches.

Snacks Recommended Before Play: Allow approximately one hour to digest.
-Fruits, Sports or breakfast bars, Cereal with milk, Yogurt, Bagel, Pretzels or whole-grain crackers

-Water, Fruit smoothie, Low-fat Milk or Soy milk

Visit  today to schedule a Sports Nutrition Seminar for your Team 
Ryan Nutrition Solutions - Fuel Excellence

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Food Intake Log - A Great Weight-Loss Tool!

So, you think you’ve had a great week of eating healthy and exercising and now it’s time to step on that scale to see how much weight you’ve lost…..wait for it……..


You are not alone. Many people think they have a good idea of how many calories they eat, but most of us only consider or recall the main meals. However, if you think about it and write it down in a food log, you’ll discover those “oh yeah” moments:
  • “Oh yeah, I had that package of peanut butter crackers from the vending machine at work this morning.” (220 calories)
  • “Oh yeah, my co-worker and I were feeling really tired this afternoon, so we made a Starbucks run and I had a Venti latte.” (240 calories)
  • "Oh yeah, I remember when I went to see Sally in accounting she had some M&M’s on her desk so I had a couple handfuls while we were talking.” (100 calories)”
  • “Oh yeah, I sampled a piece of garlic bread when I was making dinner, and I had another piece while doing the dishes after dinner." (120 calories). 

Once they are counted in a food log, those “oh yeah” moments added 680 calories to your daily calorie intake, leading to the frustration of no weight loss. 

Writing down your food intake in a food log throughout the day can help you become more mindful of what and when you are eating and avoid the mindless snacking (M&M’s, garlic bread) and liquid calories (Venti latte) we don’t even realize we are eating. A food log can help you make wiser food choices too. 

If you knew you had to write it down:
  • You may choose a lower-calorie option from the vending machine or bring a healthier snack from home for the mid-morning munchies. This could save you 100 calories. 
  • You many choose a different drink at Starbucks, perhaps a regular coffee with cream. This could save you 200 calories.
  • You may choose to have only a few M&M’s at Sally’s desk instead of 2 handfuls. This could save you 80 calories.
  • You many avoid the extra piece of garlic bread after dinner, especially since you are already full, saving you 60 calories.

So, try the food log tool today! To make it easier, use a free online food log (e.g or smart phone apps (e.g. that track the calories for you. You may be surprised at where those extra calories are sneaking in to your daily routine.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Keeping Our Young Athletes Healthy - Hydration and Sports

It's that time of year - fall sports practices are beginning: football, soccer, cross-country, fall ball, and the list goes on. The Bay Area has had a cool summer so far, but August and September could bring the heat, just when our kids are beginning their fall sports practices.

All athletes need to drink extra fluids to replace body water lost during exercise (e.g. sweat). Youth athletes need to be even more careful to drink extra fluids while exercising and training for their sports. Compared with adults, kids sweat less, do not handle temperature extremes well, get hotter during exercise, and have a lower output of blood from the heart. All of these factors increase the risk of dehydration.

Dehydration can negatively affect sports performance, and worse, is dangerous when it leads to heat exhaustion or heat stroke. Some of the negative effects on sports performance include:

  • muscles cramps
  • headaches
  • fatigue 
  • reduced mental function & concentration 
  • reduced balance 
To avoid dehydration, kids should drink fluids before, during, and after practices and games. Cold water is best in most cases. Youth athletes can also use sports drinks (i.e. Gatorade) if practices are longer than 90 minutes. Avoid carbonated sodas and "energy" drinks because they are too concentrated in sugar and may cause stomachaches, bloating, and nausea during practice. 

Let's keep our kids healthy and performing well by ensuring they have plenty of cold water available before, during, and after their practices and games. Be a proactive parent and talk to your child's coach about water breaks during practices, especially on hot days.

Drink well and play hard!